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Snap Judgment: U2's new single, 'Get on Your Boots'

Bonoandedge500

Bono and his band of merry men are not ones to miss a window of hope. And so on the eve of Barack Obama's inauguration -- just hours after the Irish rock ambassadors entertained the president-elect with their MLK Day anthem and their unofficial post-9/11 elegy at the Lincoln Memorial -- U2 unveiled a new single. Way to claim your spot on the "Yes, We Can" caravan, boys!

"Get on Your Boots" is a first taste from the band's new long-player, "No Line on the Horizon," which hits the global marketplace Feb. 15. Hear "Get on Your Boots" and read details about the album here. (Most exciting tidbit: The digipak edition will include a film "companion to the album" by Anton Corbjin.)

Initial thoughts on the band's newest inspirational booty-shaker after the jump.

Pundits are already splitting hairs about "GOYB" -- does it sound like Elvis Costello circa "Pump It Up" or the Temptations classic "Ball of Confusion"? Both connections are plausible, and there's also a fuzzy Stooges-style guitar riff that would have made Ron Asheton chuckle. But the fusion "GOYB" represents is hardly new for U2 or longtime producers Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois.

U2 got its mojo back with "Achtung Baby" 15 years ago by realizing that as white guys, they had to loosen up and get a little dirty if they wanted to explore black-invented sounds. Since then, one of its many missions has been to meld rock and soul in a way that doesn't feel retro and honors both traditions.

"GOYB" is sharper-edged than "Mysterious Ways," faster than "Elevation" and more non-linear than "Vertigo." It's dance-rock with a few small, tricky changes: a very Eno-esque bridge to nowhere, based on the phrase "you don't know how beautiful you are" that drags out the beat like Silly Putty, and a break near the end that has Bono rapping "let me in the sound" over a muscular Larry Mullen Jr. drumbeat that yells "I love rock and roll!"

As usual, modern rock's beloved grand uncles have been absorbing the lessons taught by their progeny. "Get on Your Boots" is quick and multi-layered, more like the dance rock preferred by kids who grew up on electronic music than a baby-boomer boogie fest.

Though it's tempting to stir up a rivalry between the alt-rock era's most beloved British band and its iPod-era successor, "Get on Your Boots" sounds nothing like Radiohead. MGMT seems like a more relevant influence. This is happy stuff, almost hedonistic, with not a whiff of anxiety or paranoia or even sexual tension. "Get on Your Boots" is a song about letting loose and letting go.

And moving toward a brighter future. Bono's musings here do not read well on the page (peruse them here, if you must), with Bono cutting up phrases he's used before and free-associating like he's had a couple of pink cocktails. But the underlying message is relevant.

So what is sexy about donning boots, in a song whose cheerful tone and other lyrics about forming community and growing up hardly suggest a pair of stilettos? To turn a phrase that once belonged to the increasingly irrelevant Paris Hilton, it's hot right now to ponder cleaning up a mess. And that's what "Get on Your Boots" means to inspire us to do. This is U2's celebratory announcement of a new historical moment, one in which America and the world confront the catastrophes of the recent past and bust out some elbow grease to make things better.

It's not quite time for a new anthem, this song seems to say, though titles from "No Line on the Horizon," like "Cedars of Lebanon" and "White as Snow," suggest those are coming. It's time to get to work. In its playful way, "Get on Your Boots" is a work song, a little jolt for those ready to rise up together toward change. Let me in the sound, indeed.

-- Ann Powers

Photo of Bono and the Edge at the Lincoln Memorial by Charles Dharapak / Associated Press

 
Comments () | Archives (49)

Spot on review. This is a multi-layered song, with relevance throughout. This is what I love about U2's music - It's value-added music that keeps giving. Just after you thought you had it down after one, two, or even twenty listens, you find out that you were just sitting on the surface. Can't wait to hear the rest of the album.

U2 is an Irish band not a British band what else dont you know?

It is awesome that U2 has become the X-generation's Beatles: invoking the messages of love, tolerance and non-violence with hip beats and an ever changing sound.
Looking forward to the new album and concert.
wtg GOYB! - Bring em home ASAP.
God Bless America!

I love U2 and I love their more expiremental stuff so I find myself wondering why am I the only one willing to say this is the worst single they have ever released! Maybe, it is because I just hit 30. Idk, but I hate this song. The drumming/rythm of the song gives me hope that the new album will still be filled with very orginal tracks that happen to have better/darker/more serious lyrics, less repetive bass and more disciplined guitar.

Btw, I would guess that Eno and the Edge should get more credit for drumbeat than Larry Mullen (if you strongly disagree then take a listen to Zooropa and look at the linear notes--yep, most of U2's drums have been programmed since 1991). I respect him as a very good live and studio drummer, but I doubt he had much to do with this drumbeat. From Acthung, Baby to ATYCLB he was left out the creative work and only on some songs did Bono make a point in using him for the recording of HTDAAB.

Dave, a lot of the drumming has been layers and programmed to enhance Larry's drumming. You must remember that U2 is a studio band. They play the song with the core and expand to Lanois, Eno and programming.
Larry uses drum loops in a lot of songs, but this album he did make it a point to "program" a lot of stuff to enhance the rhythm section.
About the song.
Like every U2 single, they first throughout a song to baffle listeners; The Fly, Vertigo, Discotheque, Numb just to name a few, first singles. This song does take a few listen to for one to appreciate the layers it possesses.
Listen to it 2-3 times back to back and you'll hear what I'm talking about.

great review overall. insightful & honest from a point of view. it's okay to disagree w/you on some things, i hope? To me this does sound new. Perhaps 'fresh' is a better word. True there are traces of Vertigo/The Fly, Pump It Up, & at least 3 other songs. All without ripping off those songs. The production sounds new. It seems to use modern R&B compression, along with Electro sounds, a Middle Eastern chorus and percussion, 60's guitar section along with a metal riff, and all of this in a 3 1/2 minute Dance-Rock song. Impressive!

I know you like that 'Bridge to Nowhere' catch phrase. But that's where we disagree. That bridge goes into a slam dunk chorus. It's almost like the song has 2 choruses. When Bono comes in over top it soars. And it has the Middle Eastern flavor they've been trumpeting. I didn't like this at 1st but this song is infectious. This is a great 1st single. More power to them. I hope the rest of the album is brilliant!

This is another let down by U2. I'd love to see them live, but hopefully they won't play anything off their this next album if "Boots" is an indicator of what it sounds like. No Line on the Horizon = U2 Sell Out.

Man, What a great song. I really feel as if U2 has reinvented Rock again. I can't wait to see the new album.

http://www.ROCKandREVIEW.com

U2 needs to retire....same old riffs and beats rehashed, recycled and pasted in different places. They have done some wonderful classic work and I have always been a fan of their more experimental works (Zooropa, Acthung, etc) but this song is lacking and irritating. Did anyone ever hear "Wild Wild West" by the Escape Club from 1989? It is what I hear when I listen to GYBO. This album cover has been used by other recording artists as well.

Wow, u2 fans give the most blind comments at times. I have loved u2 for the past 20 years, and this song sucks, like much of their music these days. They pander to the grammies and totally lost their roots.

Comments like, U2 has reinvented rock is ridiculous. Yeah, they reinvented rock with versus that sound a whole lot like escape clubs wild wild west. Wow, what reinvention. I love hearing from people that have no depth in music comment on reinvention of music. I have played guitar, drums, and piano for the past 15 years. What a joke, their is nothing original or well done in this song. The guitar riffs are totally reused edge sounds, the drums are a programmed loop anyone can do on their computer in 5 minutes, the voice sounds like crap, and the lyrics are awful. I keep hearing people compare this to the fly. What a joke. Yeah, no I don't think so. The fly was innovative with exploding alternative solos and lyrics that would knock your socks off. Yeah, compare that to "Sexy boots" put on your boots or whatever. U2 needs to give it up already. That obama concert made my ears bleed. I would have rather listened to someone screech in my ear for 20 minutes.

Ann- you were able to put this song completely into context. Excellent work.

I've only heard the song a few times, so I don't feel totally qualified to give an opinion, but as for a "snap judgement" of my own. I love the bottom end of this song. The Edge is such a minimalist rockstar. It is indeed a rich and complex tune and worthy of repeated listening. I look forward to your review of the album and/or tour!

As a long time U2 fan since War, which I discovered as a freshman in high school, I would say that this single is a disappointment. Not a huge disappointment, but a disappointment. Where is the melody or the hook? After listening, it does not even ask for a repeated listen- it is monotonous and tedious. It does give some hope for the upcomong album: good production, great instrumentation, and a rock sound. Lately, U2 or more so Bono have begun to think of themselves more and more as a punk band. Stick to the hooks and playing melodic rock and roll.

Peter—

while there is much to complain about in Ann's review (U2 doesn't sound like Radiohead?!? Thanks for the heads up), calling the band British isn't one of them. Ireland is part of the British Isles, which would make the Irish Brits. What you can't call U2 is English. Or on this single, especially compelling.

xNYer

just a point. ireland is not part of british isles and definitely not called british.
no such thing as british isles anymore

as with all U2 singles it takes a few listens

fightinglee, I was wondering where one might be able to buy your multimillion-selling albums...

its bold its new its great ,

great band , new album will blow everyting out of the water, listened to new single , loads of times more u listen better it sounds .n new tour will blow ur mind ,i

Totally agree w review. It's a sexy song in the way later U2 thinks of as sexy--a call to motion. GOYB is their groovy love letter to Obamanation...

Totally agree w review. It's a sexy song in the way later U2 thinks of as sexy--a call to motion. GOYB is their groovy love letter to Obamanation...

I'm in shock after listening to this song! Long time fan with huge expectations every time something new comes out. New songs/debuts are supoosed to create buzz(ie. Coldplay's Viva La Vida), postive buzz. Unfortunately GYBO is going to create more negatives.

"
Wow, u2 fans give the most blind comments at times. I have loved u2 for the past 20 years, and this song sucks, like much of their music these days. They pander to the grammies and totally lost their roots.

Comments like, U2 has reinvented rock is ridiculous. Yeah, they reinvented rock with versus that sound a whole lot like escape clubs wild wild west. Wow, what reinvention. I love hearing from people that have no depth in music comment on reinvention of music. I have played guitar, drums, and piano for the past 15 years. What a joke, their is nothing original or well done in this song. The guitar riffs are totally reused edge sounds, the drums are a programmed loop anyone can do on their computer in 5 minutes, the voice sounds like crap, and the lyrics are awful. I keep hearing people compare this to the fly. What a joke. Yeah, no I don't think so. The fly was innovative with exploding alternative solos and lyrics that would knock your socks off. Yeah, compare that to "Sexy boots" put on your boots or whatever. U2 needs to give it up already. That obama concert made my ears bleed. I would have rather listened to someone screech in my ear for 20 minutes.

Posted by: fightinglee | January 20, 2009 at 08:39 AM"


fightinglee...you so good at what this song is not...how about you do it better? Take a listen again...I dont have a whole lot of music background...but I listen...and then listen...and then let it go...Listen while reading something or doing something else.. THis is not new....This is new combination...and that's infinitely more interesting than nothing...like on the radio now...

snarl,

haaha, nice. be careful though, you never know who is blogging do you? I have sold albums, though i don't know if they add to millions. I play rock, but I am better known for jazz and classical concerts. Either way, im not hurting, and i have never played or written something as crappy as this.

It's funny that you would judge compositional ability and real talent with cd sales in a world where 14 year old girls do most of he music buying in the world and music is directed more to commercialism and image than ability. By your reasoning, britney spears is a freakin God of music, it doesn't matter that she has no actualy musical talent. Besides, U2 can can crap on a cd and people will buy it and the grammies will hand out another award. If this song came out by someone other than U2, we would never hear it. No producer would hear this and produce it and if they did, you would change the radio station. But since U2 made it, wow its gold.

The writer wasn't referring to U2 being British, but rather Radiohead. The way she shaped the sentence made it seem that way.

Technically speaking though, half of U2 are British. Adam Clayton(his English accent is a dead give away) and The Edge were both born in England to British parents. Unless they both renounced their British citizenship(and why would they as they can have dual citizenship with Ireland anyway and it's a cumbersome process) then they are still legally British citizens.

It's going to be a great album too and Achtung style experimentation is exactly what the doctor ordered.

sorry, my comment before was meant for mickey, not snarl

noodoggy, i have written better. Many underground bands and less popular bands have made way better. There is a list a million miles long of better songs. My name is not Bono, and I can't produce crap and just have it go platinum. U2 lives off of what they once were, not their current ability. Without joshua tree, acthung baby, war, unforgettable fire, and rattle and hum, this song would never find its way anywhere and you not care who wrote it. Any upcoming band makes this song, it goes nowhere. Their is no catchy tune, no brilliantly written lyrical verse.

Still I hear crap like: It's U2 though. It is so layered. You have to listen to it over and over until your ears bleed and then you will love it. Listen to it while you read? What are we talking about here? Is this like plugging your nose while you eat something disgusting. Are you saying that if I occupy myself while listening, my brain will drown out the horribleness of the song and then the true genius of the song is exhibited? Its not new, its a new combination? What? Are you f*&$#'n high? Sounds like brainwashing. Those comments are baffling.

In respect to the group I love. I have heard the songs no line on the horizon and walk out into the streets. They both sounded very good. Both songs exhibited actual melodies and something that resembled singing and lyrics. They both sounded very good. It's ok to be critical of U2 Kool aid drinkers

"Still I hear crap like: It's U2 though. It is so layered. You have to listen to it over and over until your ears bleed and then you will love it. Listen to it while you read? What are we talking about here? Is this like plugging your nose while you eat something disgusting. Are you saying that if I occupy myself while listening, my brain will drown out the horribleness of the song and then the true genius of the song is exhibited? Its not new, its a new combination? What? Are you f*&$#'n high? Sounds like brainwashing. Those comments are baffling."

Actually fightinglee, the point of those comments are that its not a straight pop song which is extremely catchy but gets old after a few weeks on the radio. Sometimes its good that a song needs you to peel a few layers before you get into it, because that means its not a thin song and it has the chance to stand the test of time.

I'm not necessarily saying Boots is one of those songs though.

Anyway, I was super into U2 between 2002-2005, and still am, but I wasn't really following the hype for this album. However, for people who like current-U2, its not about U2 trying to convince us that they are good songwriters. We just want to experience the journey through their latest album.

The era of the album is over. Most people don't listen to albums anymore. U2 is one of the last bands out there that tries to produce a musical experience with their album rather than just a collection of songs. Its something that you can't really get from other music artists these days. There are a few out there like Coldplay, The Killers, Green Day, etc, but its not like it was 10 or 15 years ago.

Personally I think other bands would be better off making EPs than filling out their albums with fillers.

 
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